Michael Brown, Race and the Reality of White Privilege in America

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August 18, 2014 by gabnormal

For more than a week, news stations (except Fox) and social media have been streaming, posting and reporting on the killing of unarmed, black, 18-year-old, Ferguson MO resident, Michael Brown, and its aftermath.

At the time of this writing, (8-18-14, 2:53 AM EST), I was sitting in my room, listening to Kendrick Lamar – his (O)verly (D)edicated mixtape – and scrolling through various news sources and social media, skimming through the massive amount of coverage and opinion on the shooting. Vice is streaming live coverage of the protests and police response. Most of what I saw was of cops demanding for the camera to be shut off or pointed to the ground. There’s also footage of people running through tear gas, police in riot gear, police threatening to shoot innocent media for filming the events and one person pouring stolen milk from McDonald’s over the face of another who had been hit by tear gas. Some tweets from those at the scene, mostly media who are supposed to be non-biased.

This isn’t a book, or a short film, though I can see it being turned into a documentary by an up-and-coming black filmmaker who will use it to springboard their career into docu-fame. Being so far removed from (See: White) anything like what will probably be called henceforth in history books the Ferguson Riots, it’s hard to even grasp them as begin real. To believe that something so horrible is even happening over an issue so deeply engrained in American and more unfortunately, culture, is almost impossible, due to the severity of events, but more frighteningly so, there’s the part of me that isn’t surprised. I am not surprised that a group of people who have been pushed and pushed and pushed have finally snapped. I’m sad, but with current racial climate I am not surprised. And that may be the part I’m most sad about.

Being white I know what a lot of white America thinks about this. “A black kid was robbing someplace, got in a fight with the cop, cop shoots kid (and rightfully so!) and now all the blacks are outraged and acting like animals.” I’ve heard plenty of white people say this, or similar, about plenty of things. Living in a more “advanced” time means that many white people watch what they say around black people, but think it anyway. Somewhere in my culling of information I read – maybe it was Al Sharpton or maybe it was a resident of Ferguson who knew Michael Brown who said it – something to the effect that Brown gave his life to make a positive change either in the town he lived in or elsewhere, and that all of this will change history, for the better. While it’s nice to have hope I have a sneaking suspicion that things like police brutality, poverty and racial tension aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, at least in the United States.

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